Scientists call them cognitive biases. Maybe we need a more dramatic term.
We are loaded with brain bugs. Riddled with dozens, if not hundreds, depending on which list you follow. Wikipedia itemizes over one hundred proven cognitive biases that infect our thinking and emotions every single day.
Recency bias. Anchoring bias. Apophenia. Cognitive dissonance. Prospect theory. Framing effect. These are just a few of the better known and well-researched flavors of those annoying and embarrassing human brain farts.
If you bought a car right off the lot with over 100 mechanical and computer defects, you’d be livid with the car dealer and the manufacturer. More importantly, you’d be driving insanely slow. You’d be aware every minute that you could be suddenly catapulted into a building, lose control on a crowded highway or see your engine burst into flames. But knowing how messed up our own personal computer is, do humans act that way?
You don’t think that’s a red flag? Thinking you know more than everyone else?
Appears to me that we carry on every day like our brains are perfect. Scarier than that, we seem to know more about extremely complex issues in the medical field than doctors who have spent 20-30 years in study and practice; have more knowledge about climate concerns than specialists who have spent their whole lives studying the issue; know more about the law than senior judges.
Hey! If your car goes forward when you put it in reverse, time for a check up.
I think students in middle school should be taught about the dangers of over-confidence and do some experiments on cognitive biases. These tests are fun and enlightening. And teach a valuable lesson about not trusting your instincts.
Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel prize for Economic Sciences, wrote a book called “Thinking, Fast and Slow” about how to counter your own personal brain bugs. He lists techniques you can use to make fewer logical errors with key decisions in life.
We should all be doing that. From picking a mate to launching an invasion, small errors in judgement can have catastrophic results. It’s not just a bias: it’s a recipe for disaster.
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